Congratulations! You’ve earned this promotion. You’re excited and ready to make an impact.
The new managers I’ve worked with, who have been in their role for several months, tell me that their new people-management role is is the most challenging and difficult career role they've held to date.
For many reasons: It seems like you’re starting all over again - - you need to instill confidence and earn trust and respect at the same time. Wait a minute, didn’t I prove myself already when I was an individual team member? Yes, but now you’re the manager and you’re expected to live up to a different set of expectations and possess characteristics that earn the respect of the individuals on your team.
Here are 2 common new manager approaches I see:
1. Some new managers believe their titles “command” respect and can be leveraged to “make” team members follow their orders solely because of the newfound "authority". That couldn’t be farther from the truth. No one likes to be told what to do – the people on the team are intelligent, achievement-oriented individuals who have been managing for some time now quite successfully without mandates and “orders” . . . How do you like to be treated? This kind of environment is not an enjoyable one, nor does it make for good relationships. (A great read on this topic is by Jocko Willink, “Extreme Ownership.”)
2. Other new managers feel they need to be “friends” with their direct reports. Be nice and kind and give constant positive feedback and they, in turn, will respect me and get the things done that we need to get done. This is not a good approach either. People need to be challenged to grow into their best selves at work. Direct feedback, positive or focused on an individual’s weaker areas, is critical for people to begin respecting you as a manager. Transparency and a coaching approach while giving feedback will go over much better vs. always being nice and kind. To grow and develop into the professional the organization needs us to be, we need to be stretched, we need to be coached to lay out the steps necessary to get there. In the end, this type of approach creates a positive work culture.
It’s key to be an advocate for your team, negotiating internally on their behalf, identifying new opportunities and creative strategies to move forward. At the same time, you must manage the expectations of your manager. Feeling “caught in the middle” between these two entities is a frequent issue I hear about.
Another frequent concern is, “How do I need to behave now that I’m a Leader?” and how do I display that Leadership for my team and my management as well? Answer: there’s no “new way to behave” to be a Leader. Think about the qualities you possess – these are the qualities that got you to this promotion. Most likely, these are : integrity, intelligence, empathy, honesty, and your character. You don’t need to adopt a new persona because you’re promoted – keep on being you as you learn the ins- and-outs of managing.
See if your organization supports leadership coaching so you can get clarity on your new road ahead.
I admire the Carly Fiorina Leadership post on character. It’s worth a read: